The pv magazine weekly news digest


There was good news from the UK rooftop solar market as trade body the Solar Trade Association (STA) revealed 125,000 households, small businesses and farms installed 700 MW of small scale solar last year.

That was enough to trigger a reduction in the FIT from April onwards, the first time installation levels have triggered such a regression – rather than the regular nine-monthly reduction – since 2012.

And the increasingly unseemly squabbling between the main political parties ahead of May's general election will do little to affect the demand for small-scale solar, according to analyst IHS, which predicts a steady rooftop installation rate of around 40 MW a month for ‘the next year or two.'

With the government’s department for energy and climate change revealing yesterday (Thursday) 5 GW was installed in total in 2014, doubling the nation's solar capacity, it's been a good week for Britain.

Fancy a takeaway?

There was plenty to ponder for pv mag editor-in-chief Jonathan Gifford at the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, not least the emergence of Jordan, Egypt and Dubai as significant emerging solar markets, despite the headwinds of grid capacity limitations, political instability and the availability of cheap natural gas, respectively.

Debate focused on how much the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority's 6-cent solar will change the industry; on the attempts of big players such as inverter manufacturer ABB and SunPower to break the Middle Eastern market and the emergence of technologies built for desert conditions; and on Saudi Arabia's disappointing decision to push back its renewable energy targets.

But the biggest takeaway from the Abu Dhabi solarfest was that no matter how much serious debate and geopolitical discussion takes place at such industry gatherings, the biggest draw for delegates is the chance to see a robot cleaner getting to work.

SMA bombshell

Away from the positive headlines coming out of the Middle East there was more grim news from Europe's increasingly-moribund solar industry with global inverter giant SMA forced to admit it will lay off a third of its staff – 1,600 positions, 1,300 of them in Germany – in the face of European woes and cheap Asian competitors.

With SMA still ranked number one in the world by market share, a figure tumbling by the week, the marginal growth expected in the global inverter market this year is set to benefit Far Eastern rivals, according to analyst IHS this week.

Chile – the next big thing?

If the addition of two PV projects totalling 125 MW in Chile was not enough to set the pulses racing, the fact the new additions took the nation's capacity to 402 MW, and that an extraordinary 1.8 GW – yes, gigawatts – are planned for 2015 might do.

With IHS predicting Chile will be the next emerging market to hit the 1 GW benchmark, at some point this year, projections the South American nation may have 4 GW of solar through 2017 may not be so fanciful.

Modi blues for Obama

President Barack Obama's attempt to browbeat Indian counterpart Narendra Modi into a climate change deal similar to the one the U.S. negotiated with China may have ended in disappointment but some less ambitious climate change agreements were signed.

Confirmation of India's honeypot status for solar came with analyst Bloomberg New Energy Finance's (BNEF) prediction $10 billion will be invested in clean energy in the nation this year.

Modi is targeting $10 billion of green energy investment over five years and ambitious – 100 GW – plans for solar have got him off to a flier, according to BNEF analyst Bharat Bhushan Agraval.

BNEF predicts 2.5 GW of solar will be added in India this year, up from 800 MW last year, but wind will still top that, with an expected 2.8 GW of capacity arriving in 2015.

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